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Public anger over prices may turn to disapproval voting at 2 April election, CITUB president says

The 28% inflation of the past two years hit the people employed in the budget sector hardest. The CITUB is demanding retroactive compensations.

| updated on 3/28/23 11:10 AM
Plamen Dimitrov
Photo: knsb-bg.org

Officially, the total inflation in Bulgaria for the past two years stands at over 28%, and it has impacted every household in Bulgaria. Against the backdrop of this figure, the trade unions in the country are demanding that all people, whose salaries depend on the government, be compensated for retroactively for the losses incurred.

“Around 250 million Leva (over EUR 125 million) is needed for the purpose, and it ought to be set down, as of 1 April, in the budget for this year. To compensate for the new inflation, another 500 million Leva will be needed as of 1 July. That would mean compensations of 10% for salaries in the budget sector to make up for the future inflation during the year,” says Plamen Dimitrov, President of the Confederation of Independent Trade Unions in Bulgaria (CITUB), as he makes the calculations for the state budget for 2023 which has not been approved yet, in anticipation of the 2 April election for parliament and the formation of a new National Assembly.

“Secondly, all politicians promise that the salaries of secondary school pedagogues will be maintained at a level of no less than 125% of the average salary for the country,” Plamen Dimitrov says further. “That is something that has to be set down in the budget, and the raise must be retroactive – as of 1 January, 2023. For the purpose, 525 million Leva will be needed, with social security and all other kinds of costs. I expect there to be a working cabinet soon because all parties are aware of voter attitudes, and that disapproval voting seems to be brewing. People really are angry at what has been happening these past couple of years. But even if there is no functioning cabinet, there will be a budget. Whatever the format, parliament must approve a budget for 2023, there is no other way. And we believe that the demands we have with regard to the new budget are realistic, minimalistic even, because if we take a look at the demands within the individual sectors and branches, people there want even higher compensations. We are proposing the bare minimum to preserve people’s purchasing power with these soaring prices.”

Another important issue which the CITUB wants to bring to the attention of the public and politicians is the strict adherence to the requirement for a 3% deficit (or 60% debt to GDP) which places Bulgaria among the EU’s top performers. But are these fiscal rules adequate, against the backdrop of the changing environment and the recent crises, experts have been asking.

Two weeks ago, the EU Economic and Financial Affairs Council raised the question: can countries have deficits higher than 3% provided they demonstrate longer-term plans for reducing their debt to GDP, Plamen Dimitrov says and adds:

“What the European Commission will propose in this regard will become clear in summer, but Bulgaria shouldn’t just sit and wait, it should be asking how come these hyper-indebted countries are being allowed not to play by the rules, while, we, who are top-performers when it comes to debt, are being told that if we don’t fulfill the percentage, we are not going to be allowed into the Eurozone. Obviously, there is something wrong with these double standards. It is time our politicians woke up and upheld our position more clearly and categorically,” Plamen Dimitrov says.

Translated from the Bulgarian and posted by Milena Daynova

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